Last Friday, June 8th, we had the chance to see Scorpions again, the legendary rock band from Hannover who has been and still is a fundamental piece of music history. On a stormy evening we went once again to the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, for one of the first dates of the Crazy World Tour’s last leg. At first, the concert should have taken place last December, but it was postponed due to a laryngitis that affected singer Klaus Meine.
Last time I’ve seen Scorpions was at Palarubini in Trieste, on November 13th, 2015, the same night when the terroristic attack happened at the Bataclan in Paris. That night, the news shook me pretty much: thinking that in those very hours, during a concert which could have been the one I was attending, a killing spree was going on, still sends shivers down my spine. From that day on, Scorpions had a special place in my mind and when the concert was announced I didn’t have a single doubt wether to attend or not.
Local blues/rock band Stray Train opened the event: born in 2015, we reviewed their latest album “Blues From Hell… The Legend Of The Courageous Five“, and they’re gathering a growing success in Slovenia and they’re back, among the others, from a series of concerts in Russia supporting Nickelback. Unfortunatly the sound balance wasn’t perfect at the beginning and a continuous echo, probably due to our position and the arena itself, prevented us to appreciate at full the Slovenian band who, after 25 minutes, bid farewell to their own audience. Judging from their response, people greatly appreciated their show.
9 PM sharp and it’s time for Scorpions. The huge drape with the band logo, covering the whole stage, goes down and the Germans start with “Going Out With A Bang“. Since the last time I saw them, the band didn’t put out any new albums, so I already expected almost the same concert as last time, except for a difference… and what a difference. Behind the drums, taking the place of long term drummer James Kottak, there’s Mikkey Dee, former drummer for Motörhead. Maybe not as boastful and star-like as his predecessor, but Dee blended perfectly with the style and intensity of the band.
But let’s go on in an orderly fashion: after the initial bang, it’s time for “Make It Real”. The huge screen all around the stage show suddenly the Slovenian flag, with the entire audience cheering (this trick is used in every nation that band plays). Some videos, with the musicians’ silhouettes over the flag, complete the whole thing. “Is There Anybody There” ends the concert introduction followed by the first, brief pause during which Klaus Maine salutes the audience and apologizes for the cancellation last year (something he will repeat a couple other times, showing how hard it’s been for him).
During the next piece, “The Zoo“, an amused Meine throws sticks to the public. Believe me, they were like thirty, with the audience constantly jumping to get one of the yearned souvenirs. Meanwhile, on the other side of the stage, guitarist Matthias Jabs is playing solos with the aid of a talkbox. As in every show like this, the nostalgia moment is mandatory: so the band delights us with a Seventies medley that includes “Top Of The Bill / Steamrock Fever / Speedy’s Coming / Catch Your Train“, while the big screens are covered in Marshall amplifiers which, despite being generated by not-so-Seventies LEDs, create a vintage and pure atmosphere which modern concerts lack more and more (except maybe for Slayer and their real Marshall wall). The hit “We Built This House” and “Delicate Dance” take us to another medley, an acoustic one, with “Follow Your Heart / Eye of the Storm / Send Me An Angel“. The band moves together to the outer platform, with a small drumkit for Mikkey Dee, and the show-in-the-show starts.
People are still amazed by the acoustic intermezzo and it’s already time for one of Scorpions’ most iconic songs, “Wind Of Change“. During the masterpiece’s pleasing and powerful refrain, which in the past would have illuminated the entire venue with lighters (now replaced by cold phone screens), Meine points the mic shaft to the audience which becomes a huge single voice, singing the song’s magical notes. Time passes swiftly and after other two songs it’s time for Mikkey Dee’s drum solo. His platform goes up, almost up to the roof, and the former Motörhead drummer shows his technique while the screens behind him show the German band’s artworks, a tribute to their fifty-plus year-long career.
The gig is coming to an end, police sirens start blazing and it’s time for “Blackout“, with Rudolf Schenker finally able to show his guitar along with smoke effects. An entire chapter could be written about Schenker’s (and his guitars) cheesiness, especially about his Mercedes-branded Gibson Flying V, but this is not the place. “Big City Nights” ends the concert and the band remains on stage to greet the audience, then goes away. Two anticipated classics are still missing though, “Still Loving You” and “Rock You Like A Hurricane“, and after a couple minutes the band comes back on stage to play them in a triumphant way.
Time to draw our conclusions about this event: we can’t move any critics to a band who has been around for more than fifty years. It doesn’t matter if seventy-years-old Klaus Meine struggled a bit at the beginning, or some whistle or imperfections happened here and there along the performance. Scorpions are one of those bands who made history and the gig was unique and not to be missed, even if it showed very few, if none at all, variations compared to three years ago. The audience in the Arena Stožice ranged from little kids to fairly adult people, all of which were surely satisfied with this evening, or better, this lesson in rock history.
The event was organized by NuCoast Concerts, which will bring Iron Maiden at the Zagreb Arena on July 24th (the same place we witnessed Roger Waters’ show). We assure you, after attending the Italian dates of the British band, we won’t miss this one as well.